Last week, I wrote about ActiveTab, a Safari extension that draws a colorful line beneath the active tab in Safari for Mac, which makes it far easier to identify the tab you’re viewing. However, the Mac isn’t the only platform where Safari’s tabs are problematic. As Federico explained in his iOS and iPadOS 15 review, it’s every bit as difficult to decypher which tab is active on the iPad.
Fortunately, ActiveTab is now available on the iPad too. The extension has the exact same features as the Mac version, making the active tab stand out by drawing a line across the top of the content view underneath the tab. If you haven’t installed a Safari extension on the iPhone or iPad yet, be sure to check out my story on iOS and iPadOS 15 Safari extensions for details on how to set them up.
Since I first wrote about ActiveTab, the app has been updated to allow you to add a custom color using RGBA values, in addition to the set of pre-defined options. The extension has added a Blend Mode option on both platforms too, which can help set the extension’s colored bar apart from its background in some circumstances.
If you haven’t checked out ActiveTab yet, it’s available on the App Store for $1.99.
Safari 15, which is already available for macOS Catalina and Big Sur, will be part of macOS Monterey too. One of the design changes to the updated browser is the separation of tab indicators from its web content. Apple has inexplicably interposed the Favorites bar in between the two, and even if you hide the bar, figuring out which tab is the active one can be difficult.
ActiveTab is a new Safari extension inspired by The Tragedy of Safari 15 for Mac’s ‘Tabs’ a story John Gruber wrote on Daring Fireball recently that you should read if you haven’t already. To make it easier to distinguish the active tab, ActiveTab draws a line underneath it along the top of the tab’s web content. There are eight colors to choose from, and the line can be anywhere from 1 to 7 pixels wide. Note that a page needs to be open for the line to appear because it’s being drawn on top of the content. As a result, you won’t see the line if a tab is empty.
The extension, which Stephen Hackett shared with me earlier today, undeniably makes it easier to spot the active tab in Safari. However, I found myself wishing almost immediately for light and dark mode versions of the color options that could switch between light and dark mode in sync with my system settings because the colors don’t all work equally well in both modes. The colors of the site you visit can affect the visibility of ActiveTab’s indicator too.
Of course, I’d prefer if Apple fixed the design of its tabs, but if you find yourself being tripped up by the new design, ActiveTab is worth considering.
ActiveTab is available on the Mac App Store for $1.99.
With the introduction of iOS and iPadOS 15, Apple has created an entirely new class of utility app on the App Store: Safari web extensions. Mac users have enjoyed extensions for years. However, for iPhone and iPad users, they’re brand new and promise to make Safari more useful than ever by opening up new power-user functionality that extends Safari in ways that Apple hasn’t. Judging from the initial crop of extensions available, I think Safari users are going to be very happy.
There are a couple of ways to install Safari extensions for iOS and iPadOS 15. First, you can go to the Settings app, select Safari, and inside the Extensions section, turn on any extensions you’ve installed and give them permission to interact with webpages. Second, you can enable or disable extensions by tapping on the puzzle piece icon in the address bar and then choosing ‘Manage Extensions.’ The same popover that appears when you tap the puzzle piece icon also lets you ‘Edit Actions,’ picking favorite extensions that will appear at the top of your extensions list in whatever order you drag them into, similar to the way picking favorite share and action extensions and rearranging them works.
Okay, let’s dig into some of the best extensions already available.